Post subject: Excerpt - The Unholy Consult, Chapter One
Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:06 pm
The Warrior Pose
Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 1:02 pm Posts: 1597
Philosophic rights and narrative lefts... the ol' one, two.
Patience is a virtue. Found the go ahead on this last night when I got home from work. Cheers to our perilous beginnings here at Second Apocalypse. Cheers to Bakker, for the words he's given us over the years. Here's to hoping that The Unholy Consult will bring Bakker more fans and money enough to keep him grinding books, worry-free.
Go thank the man .
A couple things. This is straight from the working desk and based on the time until TUC's release, I wouldn't be surprised if things changed subtly. This is mostly unlikely due to brevity of the excerpt - Bakker plans on coordinating with a popular blogger to unleash the rest of the chapter closer to TUC's release.
However, and I cannot stress this enough, Bakker was not lying when he's suggested that The Unholy Consult is going to be an infobomb! There is certainly grist for conversation here... enough meat to keep us and newcomers this will undoubtedly draw that much busier until TUC. Read at your own peril... Major Unholy Consult Spoilers.
Second Apocalypse Exclusive:
Truly? Can you not see? In a world so vast, so fraught... The father who does not lie is no father at all. – Protathis, The Over King
Late Summer, 20 New Imperial Year (4123, Year-of-the-Tusk), the Demua Mountains.
“Nau-Cayûti...” one of the wretches croaked.
“Nau-Cayûti...” another rasped, rocking like a worm.
“Such a prizssse...”
Achamian rolled to his knees, coughed. Manacles clamped his neck, wrists, ankles. A circle of figures leaned close about him, black with confusion. Beyond, the world lurched with shadow and gold. A reeking breeze laved his naked back, pinched his gut and pulled vomit to his throat.
He convulsed with a different body, gagged about a string of burning spittle. Memories of a darkling flight crowded his eyes, claws hooked about his limbs, wings shearing hard air, a blasted landscape reeling out to the horizon.
“Such-such a prizsse...”
More memories came, like ice packed about his heart and lungs. His wife, Iëva, plundering his loins with wanton abandon. The Inchoroi, Aurang, cracking him from his sarcophagus, hauling him into the heavens. Golden bulkheads rearing from bastions of cruel stone, their surfaces stamped in endless, alien filigree...
Golgotterath, the Great Prince realized. He was in Min-Uroikas, the dread Ark-of-the-skies...
Which meant he was worse than dead.
“My father!” he cried, staring about witless. “My father will yield nothing for my return!”
“Return...” one of the wretches gasped.
“There is no return...” another added.
The Wizard gazed wildly about. Ten ancient men encircled him, their skin sucked tight about their ligaments, their eyes bleary with mucous and misery. They wagged their heads–some bald, some wisped with snow-white strands–as if trapped nodding at the surface of a long, nightmarish slumber. One chewed his own bottom lip, so that blood sheeted his chin.
At first he thought they sat huddled–but he quickly realized they possessed no limbs, that they had been bound like larva to cradle-like sconces of stone. And he understood that these ten men were Men no longer, but wheels in some kind of contrivance, arcane and abominable.
At once, the Great Prince realized who it was who truly scrutinized him–as well as who had betrayed him.
“My wife,” he groaned, testing the mettle of his chains for the first time. “Iëva!”
“Has committed...” one of the ancient mouths warbled.
“What was her price...” he coughed. “Tell me!”
“She sheeks only...” the bloody one bubbled.
“To save her soul...”
Laughter, thin and eerie, passed through the wretches, like the lash through the whip, one rising from the trailing of another.
The Great Prince cast his gaze beyond them, toward the gold-girdered walls. He saw hooded light rising across faraway structures, surfaces gleaming through darkness, stamped with infinite detail, packed into inexplicable forms. A sudden awareness of distance and dimension struck him...
Dizzy, gaping spaces.
He fell to his right elbow, so sudden was the vertigo. They floated, he realized. The ancient amputees had been arrayed across a platform of some kind–one rendered of the same unearthly metal as the Ark. He saw golden reliefs through the scuffs in the offal beneath him, warring figures, leering and inhuman. And the form, opposing S’s hooked about the arms of a V...
A shape no Son of the House Anasûrimbor could fail to recognize: the Shield of Sil.
They floated upward through some kind of shaft, one impossibly vast, a gullet broad enough to house the King-Temple whole. The Horns, Nau-Cayûti realized, remembering the tales told by the Nonmen, who had ransacked this place at the conclusion of their grievous war...
“A marvel...” one of the wretches croaked, a momentary light flaring and fading in his eyes.
“Is it not?”
They ascended what Siqu called the Toir’inskiri, the Grave-with-no-bottom...
“They made this...”
“To be their...”
The vast well that plumbed Golgotterath’s Northern Horn.
“It belongs to me...”
They climbed to the world’s most wicked summit, where none but the dead and the damned descended.
Rage, delirious and titanic, seized the old Wizard’s limbs and voice. He howled. He cast his naked body whole, wrenched and heaved with the strength and fury that had made him unconquerable on so many fields of battle.
But the Wretches only drooled and laughed, one after the other.
He drew his feet beneath him, squatted, strained roaring, until his limbs flushed and quivered. He hurled all his being...
The iron links creaked, but did not yield.
“You hath returned...”
“To the house...”
“From which you hath stolen...”
He slumped in dismay, gazed sneering at the wretches. Different faces worn into the same face by decrepitude. Different voices throttled into the same voice by senescence and age-old hatred. Ten Wretches, one ancient and malevolent soul.
“Damnation awaits you!” the Great Prince roared. “Eternal torment!”
“Are naught but kindling...”
“For the Lust...”
“Of the Derived...”
The Great Prince’s thoughts raced through the old Wizard’s soul.
“They shall glory...”
“In your misery...”
Rising... rising through stench and darkness. A vast throat, ribbed in gold, descending. “Damnation!” Nau-Cayûti bellowed. “How long can you cling, wicked old fool?”
“Shall be put out...”
“Shall be cut from you...”
“And I shall give you over...”
“To my children...”
“To their rutting fervour...”
And Nau-Cayûti laughed, for fear was all but unknown to him. “How long before Hell has its say?”
“You will be shattered...”
“Beaten and degraded...”
“Your wounds will bleed...”
“The black of my children’s seed...”
“Your honour will be cast...”
“To the high winds...”
“Where the Gods shall gather it!” the Great Prince boomed. “The very Gods you flee!”
“And you will weep...”
“At the last...”
The Shield of Sil climbed high into the dark, toward a gold-shining aperture. Chained within a mightier frame, the old Wizard screamed with lunatic defiance, roared with a strength not his own.
“And when all is done...”
“You will tell me...”
“Where your accurshed tutor...”
“The Heron Spe–”
Then brightness, blinking and chill.
The cough of too cold air too sharply drawn.
Night had fallen quickly once they had descended the far side of the glacier, forcing them to camp just below the frosted heights. They had settled upon a ledge that was lifeless save for the tattooing of lichens across the sunward faces. They had fallen asleep clutching each other–for hope as much as for warmth.
Now, rubbing his eyes, the old Wizard saw Mimara hugging her knees on the mounded lip, staring out across the distance, toward the ruined talisman of Ishuäl. She spared him a curious glance, nothing more. She looked boyish for her hair, he thought.
“I dr-dreamed...” he said, hugging his arms against a shiver. “Dreamed of him.”
He had no need of explanations. Shauriatas was the curse-name of Sheönanra, the cunning Grandmaster of the Mangaecca, the intellect who discovered the last surviving Inchoroi and resurrected their World-breaking design.
Shauriatas. The Lord of the Consult.
The surprise in her eyes was fleeting. “How’s he doing?”
The old Wizard screwed his face into a scowl, then coughed in laughter.
“Not quite himself.”
The vale plummeted and piled across the morning distance. Gullies and ravines, hanging one from the other at tumbling angles. Ramps matted with conifers, shouldering scarps that climbed to the clouds. Ishuäl perched over the lowland creases, its towers and walls overthrown...
The ancient sanctuary of the Kûniüric High Kings, hidden from the world for an entire age.
He had not known what to expect when he and Mimara had crested the glacier the previous day. He had some understanding of time, of the mad way the past formed an invisible rind about the present. When life was monotonous–safe–what happened and what had happened formed a kind of slurry, and the paradoxes of time seemed little more than a philosopher’s fancy. But when life became momentous... nothing seemed more absurd, more precarious, than the now. One ate, as one always ate, one loved and hoped and hated the same as before–and it all seemed impossible.
For twenty years he had cloistered himself with his Dreams, marking progress in the slow accumulation of nocturnal variance and permutation. The growth of his slave’s children became his only calender. His old pains evaporated, to be sure, and yet everyday had seemed to be that day, the day he cursed Anasûrimbor Kellhus and began his bloody-footed trek into exile, so little had happened.
Then Mimara, bearing long dead torment and news of the Great Ordeal...
Then the Skin Eaters with their evil and blood-crazed Captain...
Then Cil-Aujas and the first Sranc, who had driven them into the precincts of Hell...
Then the madness of the Mop and the long, manic trail across the Istyuli Plains...
Then the Library of Sauglish and the Father of Dragons...
Then Nil’giccas, the death of the Last Nonman King...
So he had wheezed and huffed to the glacier’s summit in the calamitous shadow of these things, not knowing what to think, too numb and bewildered to rejoice. For so long the very world had been the mountain between them, and his limbs and heart trembled for climbing...
Then, there it lay, Ishuäl, the sum of labourious years and how many lives, Ishuäl, the birthplace of the Holy Aspect-Emperor...
Blasted to its foundations.
For a time he simply blinked and blinked. The air was too chill, his eyes too old. The sun was too bright, dazzling the icy heights. No matter how hard he squinted, he could not see...
Then he felt Mimara’s smaller, warmer hands enclose his own. She was standing before him, gazing up into his face.
“There’s no cause to weep,” she had said.
But there was.
More than enough.
His laughter forgotten, he now gazed at the wrecked fortress, his eyes clicking from detail to detail. The great blocks, scorched and fractured, spilling down the encircling slopes. The heaps of debris...
Dawn silence thundered in his ears. He found himself swallowing against a hollow pinned to the back of his throat. So much... was all he could think, but whether he meant toil or suffering or sacrifice, he could not say.
The despair, when it came, crashed through him, bubbled through his bowel. He looked away in an effort to master his eyes. Fool! he cursed himself, worried that he had outgrown his old weaknesses only to inherit the frailties of old age. How could he falter at such a time?
“I know,” he croaked, hoping to recover himself by speaking of his Dream.
“What do you know?”
“How Shauriatas survived all these years. How he managed to cheat Death...”
He explained how the Consult sorcerer had been ancient even in Far Antique days, little more than a dread legend to Seswatha and the School of Sohonc. He described a hate-rotted soul, forever falling into hell, forever deflected by ancient and arcane magicks, caught in the sackcloth of souls too near death to resist his clutching tumble, too devoid of animating passion.
A pit bent into a circle, the most perfect of the Conserving Forms...
“But isn’t trapping souls an ancient art?” she asked.
“It is...” Achamian replied. He thought of the Wathi doll he once owned–and used to save himself from the Scarlet Spires when everyone, including Esmenet, had thought him dead. He had been reluctant, then, to think of the proxy that had been trapped within it. Had it suffered? Was it yet another of his multitudinous sins?
One more blemish for Mimara to glimpse with her Judging Eye?
“But souls are exceedingly complicated,” he continued. “Far more so than the crude sorceries used to trap them. The intricacies of identity are always sheared away. Memory. Faculty. Character. These are cast into the pit... Only the most base urges survive in proxies.”
Which was what made them such useful slaves.
“So to have your soul caught...” She trailed, frowning.
“Is to be twice-damned...” he said, trailing at the behest of a queer reluctance. Few understood the monstrosity of sorcery better than he. “To have your hungers enslaved in the World, while your thoughts are tormented in the Outside.”
This seemed to trouble her. She turned back to the vista, her brow furrowed. He followed her gaze, yet again felt his heart slump at the sight of Ishuäl’s cracked foundations rising above the black carpet of pine and spruce.
“What does it mean?” she asked of the wind.
“No.” She glanced at him over her shoulder. “The timing.”
Now it was his turn to fall silent.
He thought, as he always did when he became agitated, of the Qirri. A querulous part of him groused, wondering why Mimara should bear the Nonman King’s pouch, when he was the leader of their piteous company–their Slog of slogs. But like an old dog caught in the rain yet one more time, he shook away these peevish thoughts. He had come to understand the narcotic ash over the months of his addiction, at least enough to distinguish it’s thoughts from his own.
Mimara was right. To dream such a thing now...
What could it mean?
To suffer this Dream the very day he would at last set foot in Ishuäl. To not only see Shauriatas, but to learn the true fate of Nau-Cayûti–or something of it. What could it mean to learn the truth of one great Anasûrimbor’s death, just before discovering the truth of another, even greater Anasûrimbor’s birth?
What was happening?
He sat rigid, his breath pinched by the sense of things converging...
Origin to ending.
What came after to what came before.
“Come,” Mimara called, standing, brushing grit from her ragged trousers. The sickle of her belly caught an errant lance of sunlight... The old Wizard momentarily forgot how to breathe.
A chevron of geese soared above, barking southward.
“We have bones to inspect,” she said with the weariness and resolve of a long-suffering mother.
_________________ Weaponizing the Warrior Pose - Declare War Inwardly carnificibus: multus sanguis fluit Die Better
Post subject: Re: Excerpt - The Unholy Consult, Chapter One
Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:29 pm
Joined: Sat May 19, 2012 4:01 pm Posts: 62
Was google searching a potential release date and found myself redirected from Pat's to here. Very cool to see some fingers pointed in our way. That said, I don't suppose you have any clearer an idea what day I should mark my calendar for eh Madness?
Post subject: Re: Excerpt - The Unholy Consult, Chapter One
Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:23 pm
Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 3:28 am Posts: 804 Location: Buffalo, NY
Yes! At long last a taste of what is to come.
And the fact that not what but WHEN. The details conceal and the general reveals. Should have looked for that earlier. No way to decode the dreams in this manner other than going back and reading all the chapters they are in. If only we were doing some kind of reread.
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